Wednesday, June 04, 2014

The Half-Assed Vegan

When I made my New Year's Resolutions for 2014 one of them was to stick to an exercise and eating program. To be honest, it hasn't gone as planned, but not in the way that I'm sure first comes to your mind, which was probably:

Oooops, there goes a resolution down the drain.


I knew she couldn't stick to it.

Well, I say, neener, neener to you!

I am exercising almost every day and thanks to my man George, I'm getting in a lot more activity. With the exercise has come renewed strength to my bad knee and more spring in my step.

What has gone off the rails is my eating habits. And by off the rails, I mean in an unexpected but positive way.

I, a dedicated meat eater who in the past never said no to a rack of ribs, a good hunk of prime rib or a Double-Double, have become an almost vegan. There's even a name for people like me: vegan friendly. 

Yes, pigs do fly!

It all started when I started reducing my meat intake to save calories. Before I knew it, I was eating so little meat that I thought: why bother?  I love seafood and was eating more of that, along with the occasional chicken breast. Now, I'm barely doing that!  It was so subtle, I barely noticed.

About two months ago I started experimenting with giving up dairy. Not because of veganism, but because I had been fighting acne for a while and was told by a couple of skin professionals that it might be hormonal and to try giving up dairy for a bit to see what happens. 

HUH? Are you out of your mind? Give up milk, ice cream, cheese, yogurt?! Hands down, dairy is my favorite food group. It would be impossible, I thought. But, hey, I'm 61 years old and fighting acne. That's just not right. So for no other reason except vanity, I gave up diary except for smidgens found in prepared foods like breads.

Guess what? My skin started clearing up. And my eczema, which I'd had for years, lessened considerably. Huh... maybe giving up dairy isn't such a bad thing. Who knew I had an intolerance for the stuff?

In May, concerned about an addiction to sugar, I decided to give up refined sugar, again except for small amounts found in condiments and prepared foods. For a month I had no desserts, pastries, candy, etc. Nor did I use artificial sweetener to get me over the hump. And I lived. For the first few weeks I found myself compensating for the sugar deficit by eating more starches and fats, but then that faded and I settled into eating very healthy and not missing the sugar at all.

Two days ago I had my first dessert in over a month: non-dairy ice cream from Scoops Westside and I savored every creamy bite. (If you live on the west side of LA and haven't tried Scoops, you must! Incredible artisan ice creams, both dairy and non-dairy. Pricey but worth it.) But even with that, I have no plans to go back to daily sugar binges. I believe I've kicked my habit, but realize, as with any drug, I'm just one use away from a very slippery slope.

Just so you know, I still eat meat, but it's usually when I'm out and in very small amounts. I'll even on occasion order a sandwich with a slip of cheese on it, but at home I'm somewhere between  vegetarian and vegan. Fortunately for me, I have always loved fruits and vegetables.

Sometimes I don't even recognize myself.  Who is this person who now searches the web for vegan recipes and bookmarks vegan blogs? Who just last weekend made her own veggie burgers from scratch when a year ago she would never even dream of eating one? Who bones up on nutrition information as if studying for an exam? Do you know her? Because I don't.

OMG - I just realized that in my fridge is a package of Tofurky kielbasa! No doubt bought in a weak moment brought on my lack of animal protein. I really have gone to the dark side. Forget about pigs flying, Hell has indeed frozen over.


Mark Baker said...

I wonder if giving up dairy would help my eczema. Not that I really want to do that. Cheese and Ice Cream are two of the major food groups, right?

Susan said...

Congrats, my friend!!! Big steps. I'm excited for you. To be discussed further in an upcoming phone call.!!

Grammy Lemieux said...

This is awesome Sue, thanks for sharing!

Gillian Doyle said...

You are an inspiration to me to get back on track! Tests for food sensitivities/allergies showed I should eliminate dairy, soy, peanuts, eggs and corn. There goes my craving for ice cream, peanut butter and ANYTHING with high fructose corn syrup--which is just about every processed food. But when I avoid those foods, my skin clears up and I feel better!

I secretly admired your strength of willpower at the dinner on Wednesday. I am such a people-pleaser that I would have caved after being asked about dessert the second time.

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Thanks, everyone! Gillian, if I had to give up soy, I'd really have problems since I eat so much of it now. The dairy was the most difficult thing to give up and I still have it, but in very small amounts - like once in a while I'll treat myself to real ice cream. But there is no denying that losing the dairy made a significant difference in my eczema, which is now almost GONE!